Nono, OPO, BMG Pilipinas, 1995
Opo LP Showcases songs of amazing Grace Nono (LINK)
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12 October 1996
time is ripe. The seeds are bearing fruit. Women artists in the
macho mall music scene are flexing their collective talents with
Here at home, the name that's been catching critical attention,
aside from Bayang Barrios and Cooky Chua, is Grace Nono.
Only last week, the exotic-looking singer-songwriter took home a
record-setting six trophies for the outstanding quality and content
of her 1995 album, Opo, courtesy of this year's Katha Music Awards.
Nono never had it so good. For the past 10 years, she has spent
time struggling to give meaning to her peripatetic life as a musician.
Finally, the long, hard nights of playing in clubs, in between writing
songs, have been rewarded.
People familiar with Nono's music odyssey have reason to rejoice.
They first perceived her as a good female rock singer with a lot
of promise-in 1987, when Nono was known as the hat-wearing lead
vocalist of the Baguio City-based band, The Blank.
Not long after, The Blank would establish a cult following in Manila
as the resident band of the newly-built Music Museum. With Kuh Ledesma
as manager, The Blank seemed poised to fill a void in the local
the band broke up, splintering its members to join other bands,
and leaving Nono to start anew.
Band manager Dodong Viray heard her singing Joni Mitchell tunes
at Mayric's, and helped get her a recording deal.
Music, Nono's debut album released by BMG Records Pilipinas, left
much to be desired sales-wise, and also pigeonholed her image as
a female Joey Ayala, in reference to her ethnic-inspired songs.
But it was a good album, with international-caliber songs both in
English and Filipino. And even if it didn't go multi-platinum, the
album eventually helped Nono reach the masses. By word of mouth,
advertising executives heard about her. One thing led to another,
until IBC 13 featured Nono singing and performing its theme soundtrack,
"Pinoy ang Dating", on nationwide TV.
The award-winning Opo is the follow-up to Tao Music. For the second
time, Nono collaborates with her musical soulmate, the respected
guitarist-arranger Bob Aves. It also employs an all-star cast of
guest musicians like Jun Lopito, Bobby Taylo, Cesar Aguas, Tateng
Katindig, Niño Regalado, Mel Villena, and members of Nono's
club band, Gerry Duran, Danny Buenaventura, Nards Reyes and Diokno
Pasilan. In one track, Boy Camara sings back-up.
factors contribute to the global greatness of Opo. First, it successfully
fuses indigenous instruments with digital technology. This is very
much a result of the Nono-Aves experiments in world music, a remarkable
feat which BMG should exploit by releasing the album abroad.
Second, the manner in which Nono presents social issues is never
boring. Themes like poverty, ancestral rights and ecology come off
as intriguing subjects that pleasantly mix with the other songs
that talk of love and affection. Yet the message is not lost in
is the wonderful use of native Filipino dialects. There is something
beautiful in Nono's interpretation of tribal chants, Visayan verses
and T'boli melodies, an aural quality which can be attributed to
her rich vocal range.
a whole, Opo elicits respect for an artist who has paid her dues!
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